What with all the references to Coors beer, the University of Colorado’s admissions standards, and the results of the 2012 Colorado Republican Caucuses in the undercard debate, wonder if CNBC will just hold a lightning round of battleground state pandering right off the bat? Would add some efficiency to the proceedings.

I had to turn off the sound on the undercard post-game show, what with the CNBC “personalities” arguing about which candidate most reflected their own right-wing views. But unfortunately, it’s harder to ignore the crawl at the bottom of the screen with selected Tweets about the event–just saw a whole series from Newt Gingrich. Ugh.

Enough preliminary carping! Here we go.

Here’s the “open question:” what’s your biggest weakness? Hate this in job interviews.

Kasich right off the bat attacking Carson and Trump (without naming them), which isn’t exactly an answer to the question, is it?

Huck: ask my wife! I play by the rules, but Washington doesn’t.

Jeb: I’m impatient, and can’t fake anger.

Rubio: I’m optimistic. Good God, this is ridiculous.

Trump: too trusting, but don’t forgive people who have betrayed me!

Carson: couldn’t imagine myself being president until recently, won’t attack other Republicans.

Fiorina: jokes about not smiling enough, pivots to how much she hates government.

Cruz: too agreeable, easy-going (yuk yuk). Another beer joke: I’m the guy who will drive you home.

Christie: we’re not weak, Dems are (socialist, isolationist, pessimist).

Paul: Ignores question, goes right after budget deal, promises filibuster.

That’s the opening.

Harwood asks Trump if he’s offering comic-book version of presidential campaign. Trump does shout-out to Kudlow, defends his “wall.” Follow-up: Harwood goes all expert on Trump’s plan; Trump touts Kudlow.

Jeb jumps in and cites some estimate of Trump’s deficits.

Quick asks Carson about math of his “tithe” tax plan. Carson talks real slow as though explaining his plan to a child; could be running out the clock.

Kasich tries to jump in, Harwood indulges him, asks him to repeat attacks on Carson and Trump. Kasich kinda yells about his own record, again doesn’t mention his rivals by name.
Harwood tells him to name names–Kasich alludes to Carson and Trump, yells about his experience. I don’t think this is working.

Trump follow-up: Kasich got lucky with fracking, then mentions Lehman Brothers, says Kasich real nice until his poll numbers tanked. Kasich tries to respond, but not real well. Would love to see a dial assessment of his rap.

Carson: Tries to explain his tax plan as not being “pie in the sky.”

Cruz, for some reason, gets chance to tout his own flat tax plan.

Fiorina jumps in, says it’s all about leadership. Quintanilla tries to mock her 3-page tax code, she plays off it well.

Quintanilla asks Rubio why he doesn’t get more done before running for president. “That’s what Republican Establishment says!” says candidate of Republican Establishment. Quintanilla asks him about Florida op-ed demanding his resignation. Rubio calls it example of double standard between MSM and conservative media. Big cheers. Jeb jumps in and goes after Rubio. Rubio quotes Jeb about McCain, who missed more votes than Rubio.

Lotta cross-talking. Harwood, the heavy among the moderators, asks Bush about his bad polling numbers and staff layoffs, and quotes Benanke saying Republicans are “know-nothings.” Jeb dodges that one pretty easily.

Quick asks Fiorina about lost stock value at H-P– why should America hires you when your board fired you. Carly does her usual defense of record, with her usual citation of Tom Perkins. Quick quotes famous Perkins quote about rich people needing more votes.

Finally, Quintanilla asks Cruz about budget deal. Cruz channels Gingrich, attacks moderators. Dem debate was between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Yuk yuk.

Big nasty yelling match between Harwood and Cruz. Harwood then asks Paul if budget deal doesn’t cut Social Security disability enough. Paul goes all deficit-hawky. Harwood asks why Paul Ryan supported it? Paul says Ryan may represent more of the same.

Quick asks Christie to respond to Huck criticism of “entitlement reform:” Christie says social compact already broken, goes all Pete Peterson. Huck finally gets to speak in follow-up: SocSec is people’s money that’s been stolen, attacks budget deal for cutting SocSec more, suggests Christie blaming SocSec beneficiaries. Christie comes out for truth-telling.

Quintanilla gives Cruz chance to address budget deal: attacks it briefly, suggests he’s (again) bridging gap between Huck and Christie by favoring grandfathered “reform.” This Cruz-the-peacekeeper-between-candidates number is certainly unexpected.

There’s a break!

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.